CHICAGO (CBS) — A Willowbrook woman who was beaten, stabbed, and sexually assaulted in a violent home invasion in 2015 planned to be in court on Thursday when her rapist is sentenced.
Typically, news media don’t identify victims in cases like this, but Melissa Schuster wanted to share her story to help other rape victims.
Schuster was loading up her car, getting ready to go to a family party, on Aug. 29, 2015, when Londale Madison pulled into her driveway and asked for money, according to DuPage County prosecutors. Schuster declined, and – concerned for her safety after he drove away – she went inside her house and locked the door.
Madison came back, knocked on her door, and asked to use the phone. When Schuster wouldn’t let him in, the man broke down her door, forced his way inside, and started beating her, demanding to know if there was money in the house, prosecutors said.
Schuster told him there was money upstairs, and he dragged her by the hair upstairs, forced her into a bathroom, and raped her.
“He had let me upstairs and he wanted me to rinse off from all the blood and I remember standing there thinking to myself, ‘This is it. I’m not gonna make it. I’m going to die,'” Schuster told reporters a few days after the attack.
Madison then forced her back downstairs and kept demanding money. When she didn’t find cash for him right away, Madison stabbed her 17 times, ransacked the house, stole her purse and cellphone, and left her for dead, according to prosecutors.
When she woke up, she ran naked to a neighbor’s house for help.
“That’s when all of a sudden in my head I said, ‘I’m gonna make it to my neighbor’s house. I’m going to find a way and I’m gonna make it there.’ The next thing I know, I was sprinting through my front yard, across the street, and on my neighbors driveway and in their house,” Schuster said.
Schuster spoke out about surviving the brutal attack less than a week later.
“The strength just came. I don’t know where it came from, but I knew I wasn’t going to give up and I was determined and here I am today,” she said. “Talking about it really helps me a lot and gives me more of a peace.”
The same day, the owner of the car Madison was driving reported it stolen. Police found it the next day, with Schuster’s purse and wallet inside, along with Madison’s wallet. A blody rag also was found outside the driver’s side door.
Madison, 33, pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of attempted murder, armed robbery, home invasion, and aggravated criminal sexual assault. He faces a minimum of 20 years in prison, but the plea deal did not include a sentencing agreement.
“I defeated him. I took him down. He may have tried to do whatever he could to me, but ultimately in the end, I won,” Schuster said. “In the end I’m walking away alive, and I get to be with my family. I get to go back to my life and I’m incredibly thankful for that.”